ORLANDO – Following a historic season of firsts for the UCF women’s soccer team in its inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference, a new opponent awaits in Austin, Texas. The sixth-seeded Knights will take on No. 3 TCU in the quarterfinals of the Sprouts Farmers Market 2023 Big 12 Soccer Championship on Monday evening. The first matchup between the two teams this season will take place at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas, with a first kick time of 9 p.m. ET.
This will be the second all-time meeting between the Knights and the Horned Frogs, with UCF holding the series record 1-0. The last time the two teams saw each other was in head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak’s second year at the helm, in 2014, a match that saw the Black and Gold take home the 2-0 victory in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Knights wrapped up their first regular season as a member of the Big 12 with a 9-6-1 overall mark and a 5-4-1 conference record. In the regular-season finale, the squad fell just short to No. 7 BYU in Provo, 3-2. The Cougars struck early and maintained their lead through the remainder of the match, but there were numerous high points for UCF despite the result. Mia Asenjo earned her second goal of the season and her first penalty kick of her career late in the second half and Chloe Netzel returned to her scoring ways on a highlight-worthy goal after a two-match scoring drought. Netzel is now the team leader for both goals (six) and points (14), the third consecutive season where the Missouri native has scored six goals.
As the sixth seed, the Black and Gold secured a first-round bye for the second consecutive season. In 2022, UCF was the first seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, giving the team hosting rights to accompany the first-round bye.
Dayana Martin and Jessica McCullen brought home the first postseason Big 12 awards in school history with an All-Big 12 Second-Team honor for Martin and a nod to the all-freshman team for McCullen. Martin was selected to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team earlier in the season and continued to impress the coaches with her opportunity creation and dominance as a forward to earn her second straight postseason honor. McCullen had a stellar freshman season, being thrown directly into the fire following injuries to the back line and immediately making an impact along with more senior members of the Knights’ defense. After helping to secure back-to-back shutouts against Houston and Kansas, the Longwood, Florida, native earned freshman of the week honors, the first Big 12 weekly honors in program history.
Similar to the Knights, TCU’s non-conference schedule saw matchups with two familiar opponents. At Penn State, the Horned Frogs fell 1-0 and in a similar fashion to UCF’s defeat in University Park, conceded a late goal after a back-and-forth match. While the Knights’ first victory as a Big 12 member came at Purdue in their season opener, TCU defeated the Boilermakers 2-1 following a triumph versus Texas A&M. A three-all draw opened conference play at BYU before a six-match win streak ensued, coming to an end in the Horned Frogs' first of two conference defeats at Texas Tech, 1-0. Over its past four matches, TCU has secured just one win with a 4-2 defeat at Texas capping off the regular season.
Just the third head coach in program history, Eric Bell has led the Horned Frogs for 12 seasons, accumulating 132 wins and currently seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. After securing TCU's first Big 12 Championship in 2020, Bell and the Horned Frogs followed that showing by winning both the regular season and tournament titles in 2021.
Both squads have produced similar stats through the 2023 season, with both averaging 1.44 goals per match. More than half of TCU’s goals have come from Gracie Brian (eight) and Seven Castain (seven) as both landed on the All-Big 12 First Team. With a total of five landing on the awards list, the Horned Frogs have multiple threats throughout the team. Goalkeeper Lauren Kellett ranks second in the conference with eight shutouts as the TCU defense averages just one goal conceded per match.